Readers' Letters: Capital residents need to demand more from their representatives

In 2022 visitors to the Edinburgh festivals were shocked by city streets during the refuse workers' strikeIn 2022 visitors to the Edinburgh festivals were shocked by city streets during the refuse workers' strike
In 2022 visitors to the Edinburgh festivals were shocked by city streets during the refuse workers' strike
Following GMB Scotland’s announcement of possible strike action during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for improved pay for local government workers, some businesses and residents have shared their frustrations.

As an Edinburgh resident myself, I understand. Trade unions want to negotiate an acceptable pay deal. Despite submitting our pay claim in January, it took

Council Leaders until May to respond. Since then, no meaningful talks have taken place between Council Leaders and trade unions leaving workers without a much-needed pay rise. All while the Scottish Government refuses to come to the table to fund an improved offer.

Residents only have to live with this disruption for as long as the strike action lasts. Our members in waste have to work under stretched services doing backbreaking work for low pay all year round. They are not taking strike action without a sacrifice of their own. Every day our members strike, they lose a day’s pay.

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Businesses have just endured an arduous cost-of-living crisis which has pushed many to the brink and others to close. Those same pressures you felt are being felt by our members. They have been given below inflation pay rises for years despite the work they did during the pandemic to protect public health. Whilst many worked from home, they were not furloughed. Their office was Edinburgh’s streets, backcourts and waste depots.

The Fringe is a global event bringing millions of pounds into the city and Scotland. Your frustration highlights how important underpaid and undervalued council workers are to the success of the event. Strike action does not need to go ahead, politicians can show some gumption and get round the negotiating table instead of sleepwalking into more strikes. We are united by that wish for political intervention. It is politicians – not workers, residents or businesses – who are responsible for the situation our members and public services are in. It is them who must fix it.

Every one of us in Edinburgh relies on the vital services of our waste workers. We all have a stake in ensuring those who keep our streets clean are paid for the hard and dirty work they do. On this, we cannot be divided.

There is still time. My plea to all residents and businesses is to join us. Write to your Councillors, write to your MSPs, write to your MPs. Demand improved services. Demand an improved pay offer. Demand better from our political leaders and for our city.

Keir Greenaway, Senior Organiser for Public Services, GMB Scotland

Sturgeon must go

Nicola Sturgeon, who’s paid in excess of £72,000 pa plus expenses to serve as an SNP MSP, on ITV’s general election show, refers to the SNP as “they”, not “we”. In her analysis of the SNP’s devastating seat loss, Sturgeon appeared in denial that the seeds of the SNP's decline were sown during her not long ago eight years at the top. These days, conspicuous at literary festivals across the UK, she rarely bothers to turn up at Holyrood, let alone deigns to speak. If Sturgeon feels so distanced from the SNP, is it now time for her to stand down and hand over her job – and sizeable salary – to someone else? Or does that require something she doesn't have?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

De facto done

Robert Farquharson (Letters, July 6) is mistaken in suggesting that “unionist politicians are convinced a bad election for the SNP puts an end to independence”. What it puts an end to is the SNP's lazy reliance on dog whistle politics. No longer can they simply trot out the mantras of “democracy denial” or the “will of the Scottish people” for a referendum and expect the Scottish electorate to rush to the polls to vote for them.

What will it take to convince Mr Farquharson that, no matter how many times the SNP say it, the Scottish people do not want a referendum any time soon. Indeed we have just had a referendum – SNP style. Nicola Sturgeon set up this election to be – in her words – a de facto referendum. John Swinney put independence on line 1, page of the SNP manifesto. And look where that got them.

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Pre-election opinion polls suggested that around 45 per cent of Scots want independence. But those same polls showed that a considerably lower percentage want a second referendum any time soon. The election confirms this in no uncertain terms. Around 30 per cent are dyed in the wool nationalists who want independence immediately as their first and only priority whilst another 15 per cent are not so convinced and may see it as more of a long term aspiration.

What the SNP needs to do is convince them and more of the rest of us that independence is an attractive proposition particularly in economic terms, In that context they have a mighty big job on their hands. Alternatively they might get the electorate onside again if they can persuade them they are capable of a record of competence in government. And in that context they have a mountain to climb!

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Engage the young

While I am pleased about the outcome of the recent General Election and encouraged by the forming of what has been called the cabinet of all the talents, the landslide result can’t conceal a number of concerns, among which is the amount of seats gained despite the relatively low share of the vote.

Even more worrying are the 40 per cent who didn’t vote nationwide and the slightly worse figure for Scotland. Most of all, I suspect that an alarming statistic is that this 40 per cent might largely feature young people. Surely this counts as the ultimate in wasted votes and one which we can't afford.

In our era when the future of democracy itself worldwide is precarious to say the least, it is more vital than ever for politicians of every hue to engage with the young, in touch with their interests and aspirations. Actually, I have a positive feeling that this cabinet of all the talents under the leadership of Keir Starmer, given the chance, can go a long way towards achieving just that.

Ian Petrie, Edinburgh

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